Thursday, October 8, 2009


One of the things that has become painfully obvious to me is that I have a big portion of my life that feels like a hole. A hole in the fabric, a black hole, a missing piece. I'm bothered by it, certainly, but I don't see a way to change it.

I guess what is making me think about this hole is the company I keep. I have been having a ton of fun lately going out with or talking to various people, but invariably, these people represent distant past or the present. There is a whole segment of my life that is missing. That isn't all that is missing. I'm missing a whole segment of popular culture. Music, TV, books. No memory of any favorites that I can come up with during this time. A few movies come to mind, but not many.

I can attribute holes to a number of things. I have joked that I skipped my twenties, but truthfully I initially made choices that contributed to that. I got married right out of college, started working in my chosen field, did all that I was "supposed" to do, had two children, and became thoroughly engaged in their lives. My then husband and I had friends that we made, certainly, and I did things with a number of the women in my church. Yet while I know I made some initial choices that pointed my life in a certain direction, I remember that there came a time where I quit making many choices. More nights that not I would call my husband and ask him what he wanted for dinner. If my parents invited us for a meal, I would call him and say, "We've been invited to eat with my parents - do you want to go?" I don't remember choosing to watch things on TV - but the TV was always on. I didn't have much of a say in the finances, and I felt guilty for spending money. Music? I didn't buy any music - and we had the Columbia Record Deal going on for awhile, but the choices weren't mine.

I know along the way I felt an emptiness. The first time I felt that emptiness I got pregnant. For a short time afterwards I felt like things were exactly the way they should be. Then I felt empty again, so I got pregnant again. Same result - I can distinctly remember a time after the birth of DD2 that I felt that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. The third time that emptiness hit, though, I put myself through the longest birthing process yet - I got my doctorate. That third time really marks a turning point, because it is invariably denotes a shift in how I handled the feeling and is also what caused me to recognize that I somehow got lost in the process. I didn't have preferences, and I really didn't have an identity. I just knew that I wasn't happy - what I didn't realize is that events that had happened in my past had caused me to shut down with others, to remove myself from the equation so that I couldn't be hurt. Even my career choice as well as my religious beliefs had all resulted out of my desire to avoid being hurt. As this awareness came into my consciousness, I can remember teaching my adult Sunday School class and thinking what a sham I represented. I didn't connect with the people in the room, or the material. I taught and thought, "I'm not sure I believe what I'm teaching." Had it been a year prior, I wouldn't have even questioned it.

Ultimately, I decided to leave my marriage, for a multitude of reasons, but mainly to heal from past abuses. I wasn't given the space to do it within the confines of the marriage, so I had to remove the confines. While this action has saved me, it also caused me to lose a large number of friends that we had as a couple. I have never really understood the human need to "choose sides," particularly given there is no real way to understand exactly what is happening if one doesn't make an effort to do so. And while I'm not bitter, I do recognize their absence.

So I find myself with this hole in my fabric of friends. With only a couple of truly special exceptions, the people with whom I stay in contact and spend time with are those from my distant past or from my present. It is almost like someone has taken an eraser and wiped away people as well as things I should have experienced or remembered. The things that are constant are my kids and my job - those events are fairly clear in my memory. The rest? Gone.

It's eerie. And while I have few regrets, I don't ever intend to lose myself like that again. I do think the past few years have allowed me to heal and see myself as a whole person, and you know what? I like what I see and who I am. One of the things that I have been able to do and remain committed to is forging an identity that is not dependent on others, like my kids or any potential romantic partner. I have become someone who has preferences, wants and desires, and someone who won't settle for mediocre. It's why I run; why I travel; why I take the time for friends and for myself.

Still, I remain very aware that those holes exist for me. On good days I can embrace the emptiness and recognize that it was part of some vital learning process for me. Thankfully the good days outweigh the bad days.

It is, after all, not about contributing any more to those holes.... Embracing who I am, what I have, what I do, who I spend time with. Adding the w, and just being whole.

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